Editor’s (Cal Watchdog) note: Today marks a year since Kelly Thomas, an unarmed homeless man, was severely beaten by Fullerton police. He died five days later. This is the first of a three-part series.
By Tori Richards
An outside investigation into whether police officers violated policy leading up to the beating death of homeless man Kelly Thomas will be completed shortly. If consistent with preliminary findings, the investigation will lambast the Fullerton Police Department for a series of blunders.
A CalWatchDog.com investigation has found that, not only have the officers’ actions violated the city’s police policy manual, they are in sharp contrast to another police agency that encounters the homeless at a rate hundreds of percentage points higher, but without a record of violence.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department — a model agency in its dealings with the homeless — has more than 2,000 encounters a month and runs a groundbreaking program that seeks to aid that sector, rather than incarcerate them.
“The International Association of Chiefs of Police gave its highest award to the LASD in 1996 because we partnered law enforcement with mental health and social workers to work together and identify people living on the streets and provide opportunities to them,” said Sheriff’s Capt. Mike Parker.
That was 16 years ago and LASD is still going strong. Numerous police agencies have followed their lead and initiated their own polices, including Fullerton.
But on July 5, 2011, none of that seemed to matter when Thomas had a fatal run-in with six police officers at a Fullerton bus depot. The 37-year-old man was a schizophrenic who preferred living on the streets to a structured life indoors where he took his medicine. Read more here.